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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

Archived Blog Posts

Smoke Cleanup at South Tama Middle School

8/7/2019 (Permalink)

(Photo by Jens Johnsson on Unsplash) We are trained and equipped to remove soot and smoke odor after a fire.

On August 5th, firefighters were called to South Tama Middle school in the middle of the night due to a fire. This fire originated in the boiler room which was located in the basement. Luckily the fire was contained. The school will receive a full smoke and odor clean up and some construction from SERVPRO of Cedar Rapids and us, SERVPRO of Black Hawk County.


We received the call to be apart of this job a day after the incident from Co-Owner of SERVPRO of Cedar Rapids, Brett Kellogg. Our Owner Scott Demuth and Production Manager Brett Armfield quickly took off to Toledo, IA to assist in the full inspection of the fire damage. We are truly excited to be working as ONE TEAM with another franchise. This job may seem overwhelming to another cleanup and restoration business but not to SERVPRO! The school needs to be cleaned from top to bottom before August 16th, that means we only have 10 days to get this job done but we are ready and excited to meet the challenge. The team has taken the initiative to form a strategy to get South Tama Middle ready before their teacher’s planning day.

Here’s a low down on our plan.

  • We have requested 20+ workers to help with the Cleanup process.
  • We are setting up a tent for employee check-ins and equipment inventory.
  • We are loading our truck with equipment and commercial cleaning products.
  • We have 1-3 on-site supervisors making sure tasks are being met.
  • We have employees removing tiles from the ceiling so we can remove smoke odor from all crevices.
  • We are blasting soot or fire particles with a commercial garnet blaster.
  • We are setting up various air movers on site.
  • We will be in daily communications with the superintendent on our progress.
  • We will clean every carpet in the building.
  • We will do a full cleanup of the chimney.

Getting to the Finish Line with Ease.

Scott and Brett have a combined 11+ years of experience in restoration and cleanup services. We are eager to get this job done for the community and to continue building our brand as a business you can trust. For the next 2 weeks, our team will be working overtime to get this school looking “Like it never even happened.”

Get connected with us and follow us on INSTAGRAM or FACEBOOK. @SERVPRObhc

August 4th is Campfire Day - Celebrate with some Campfire Tips!

8/1/2019 (Permalink)

Remember to fully extinguish your fire before leaving the campgrounds.

Here in Iowa, we love campfires.

Even though it’s summer, the worst of the heat has ceased for a moment allowing us to enjoy our evening with 70-degree weather. School doesn’t start for another 3 weeks so enjoy the great outdoors with friends and family. Maybe visit Deerwood Park in Evansdale or Big Woods Lake in Cedar Falls? Wherever you decide to go camping, we want you to have loads of fun and to stay safe.

Here’s some Campfire Safety Tips! *

  1. Find out the campground rules about building a fire. Campgrounds may already have existing fire rings or pits.
  2. Make sure your fire pit is 15 feet away from dry logs, leaves or any flammable objects.
  3. Keep your fire to a manageable size.
  4. Never leave your campfire unattended.
  5. When extinguishing the fire, drown the fire completely in water until there is no more hissing.
  6. If there’s no water, allow all the wood to burn to ash and cover with dirt.
  7. Before leaving the campground, make sure the firepit is cool to the touch.

*For more information on Campfire Safety Tips, visit smokeybear.com.

Now that we know you’re going to stay safe during your camping trip, we are ready to blow your mind with a few Non-traditional Smores!

  • Graham + Banana + PB + Marshmallow + Bacon
  • Chocolate Graham + Mint Chocolate + Marshmallow
  • Chocolate Chip Cookie + Hazelnut Spread + Strawberry + Marshmallow
  • Oreo + Marshmallow (stick the marshmallow in between the sandwich cookie)
  • Graham + PB cup + Marshmallow

Yum! We would love to hear about your campfire adventure on social media. Tag @SERVPRObhc in your photo or story and share your campfire safety practice.

“Snake” your Floor Drain or Pit to prevent backup sewage

7/30/2019 (Permalink)

Finished Basement’s floor drain or pit is about to be “snaked” or cleared out.


A few weeks ago, we received an emergency call from a home in Waterloo about a possible sewage problem after a rainstorm. The unfinished basement was filling up with water and the homeowners had no control over it. Apparently, the floor drain was so clogged up that it wasn’t only filling up with their sewage but the neighbor’s sewage was coming in as well. We know… What a nightmare! For this type of water, it is not safe for anyone who isn’t trained or have the equipment to have contact with it. It can be very dangerous especially for your health. This type of water is called “blackwater” and it can contain unsanitary agents and harmful bacteria. Our crew uses safety precaution when dealing with such a job. Needless to say, we completed the job quickly and successfully.


A question that came up during this job is, why did this happen and how can it be prevented? Sewage pipes can get clogged with oils, food, hair, soap residue, and even tree roots. We recommend that you clear out or “snake” your floor drain with a professional! At least that is what one of our employees did as soon as she walked out of this job site. She said it was the best money she spent for some peace of mind. Her floor drain looked almost identical to the one on the sewage job so it really shocked her. Unlike that basement, her basement is finished so if an unexpected sewage disaster were to happen, it would mean more content to clean, dispose of and possibly more costly to fix the problem. So yes, think about snaking your floor drain.

Here are a few more things to do to prevent your drains from being clogged.

  • Keep toilets, sinks, and drains clean.
  • Do not flush feminine products, diapers, or wet wipes down the toilet.
  • Use a mesh in a shower to trap the hair from going down the drain.
  • Do not pour fats or coffee grounds down the sink.
  • Do not put large food waste down your garbage disposal.

Make sure you direct the professional snaking your drain to clear it all the way to the street where it goes out into the public sewer system. And as a side note, find out if your Home Insurance has coverage for possible issues with your service line.

If you experienced a backup or flooding, Give us a call at 319.268.1521. We are here to help.

FROM PANICKED TO PREPARED, SERVPRO of Black Hawk County's E.R.P can take you there.

7/24/2019 (Permalink)

Unexpected things can happen, Do you have an Emergency Ready Plan?

NO one is really ever ready for any kind of disaster! We can try to put measures in place that help us get on top of a situation, but in all honestly, it’s difficult to really get prepared on our own!

The no-cost to you EMERGENCY READY PLAN (ERP) is a pro-active approach to help streamline your efforts in putting your home back together.

House fires are devastating! SERVPRO of Black Hawk County can help you put a detailed action plan in place that can take you from panicked to prepared if you experience a fire in your home.  Through a 20-minute question and answer time with a member of SERVPRO, a profile is put together that documents the following:

  • Emergency contacts that include insurance agents, policy numbers (name, phone, email)
  • Pictures of the main utility information: shut off locations for electric, gas, water
  • Additional utility contact info: pictures of alarm systems, sprinkler, IT server
  • Property overview –PICTURES of rooms and contents
  • Additional notes for anything else homeowners may want


The big plus is that the ERP IS AN APP and can be uploaded to your phone and home computer. Access it from anywhere! Working to develop this ERP does not obligate homeowners to SERVPRO in any way. (But we would come running if you called during an emergency to assist) J

We all know the plan for fire exits in our homes but we don’t usually have a plan to get back into our homes quickly! SERVPRO’s Emergency Ready Plans do that!

You may never feel prepared for a fire, but taking the steps to develop your personal ERP is a start. The Emergency Ready Plan creates confidence that you have, literally, at your fingertips the contacts and documented contents of your home to help rebuild after a fire in a speedy fashion.

We can devise an Emergency Ready Plan to protect your home from fire damage. Call us at (319) 268.1521 before a disaster occurs.

Cleaning up a School in Wapsie Valley during the Summer

7/23/2019 (Permalink)

There’s been a spotting of our van in Bremer County.

Have No Fear, SERVPRO is Here!

Last year, we had a superintendent reach out to us for fear of mold issues in one of the schools. It was a very busy time because of flood and storm damage in our area but our owner, Scott, went to inspect the school right away. Careful examination and testing occurred to validate a full deep cleaning of the entire school.

We understand the importance of having a safe and clean place for children to learn.

At that moment, because of so many ongoing jobs, we wondered if we had enough equipment available. Scott quickly put a plan into action. As a dad, he understands the importance of having a safe place for children to learn and also peace of mind for the parents, so he made a few phone calls. He reached out to SERVPRO of Fort Dodge, who had a project manager available to help co-supervise the team of workers. Scott’s dad, Joe (sweetest person ever), drove to SERVPRO of Cedar Rapids with our truck to borrow extra equipment. It’s one of the bonus’ of being a unified company, working together. Scott also made an investment and purchased additional dehumidifiers and air movers for this project.

Let’s get down to Cleaning!

Needless to say, cleaning the school from top to bottom was a success. Such a success, we were invited back this summer to strip and wax the floors! We are happy to return to the Wapsie Valley Community School district to get them ready for the end of August. BACK TO SCHOOL will be here in no time!

Board Ups to the Rescue in any kind of Storm!

7/18/2019 (Permalink)

We can board-up home or business and keep your property safe from looters.

The word STORM can take on several different meanings.  It can refer to weather-related events, major life occurrences, and it describes emotionally packed situations. Doesn’t it always feel like a storm has hit when life gets turned upside down!?

Whether fire, rain or wind problems have caused a window, door or roof to leave a gaping hole in your home or business, SERVPRO of Black Hawk County can help by covering it up.

When vandals and varmints have created an unfortunate mess, leaving your home or business vulnerable, SERVPRO of Black Hawk County can assist by closing it up.

Commercial properties are exposed to hazards of automobiles running into them or destructive items like rocks or bricks thrown through a window. We have the skills and knowledge to board up these unexpected conditions.

We will be sure that the board-up procedures provide durable protection for the damaged structure and cause minimal additional damage to building surfaces. After protecting and securing the structure, our professionals can begin the restoration process.

SERVPRO of Black Hawk County can provide a full range of restoration services that will bring your home or business back to full function. Here are a few necessary aids we provide:

  • Board Up
  • Carpet Extraction or Removal
  • Document Drying
  • Drywall Removal
  • Electronics Restoration
  • Furniture Restoration
  • General Contracting
  • Hardwood Floor Drying
  • Pack Up and Move Out

Along with the physical work SERVPRO of Black Hawk County offers, our team of employees recognizes the storm of emotions that home and business owners go through during these crises. It takes special individuals who understand, empathizes, listens, and hold out their hand to walk you to the completion of the project, making it "Like it never even happened".

If your property is in need of board-up services, give SERVPRO of Black Hawk County a call. Day or night, we will assist you. 319.268.1521

Wax off, Wax on- Learning a new skill, STRIP AND WAX FLOORING.

7/18/2019 (Permalink)

The technician is buffing or stripping the wax with degreaser and a Global Foor Machine.

No, we aren’t talking about Karate but that would be pretty cool. Our cleaning technician added a new trade to their repertoire called Strip and Wax Flooring. While we usually do a lot of commercial and residential work, it is usually just carpet or upholstery. We are now able to clean, buff, AND wax hard surface floors!

What’s the Process Like?

A close friend of ours and experienced expert in the field took the time to educate our technicians on this trade. We had all the equipment on hand from another type of work we do so it just made sense to learn this! These are the steps for Strip and Wax.

  1. Clean the hard floor surface.
  2. Soak with water.
  3. Buff or strip wax with a degreaser.
  4. Wet vacuum all water.
  5. Set air movers to dry the flooring.
  6. Apply 3 layers of wax.

Voilà! Floors are shiny and ready to reenact the “Risky Business” dance move. We find it important to grow in our knowledge so that we can continue to help your cleaning and restoration needs.

If you haven’t followed us on Facebook or Instagram, we recommend you do so!

Where it all started, Sacramento! | SERVPRO 50TH Annual Convention

7/10/2019 (Permalink)

Scott and Libby Demuth going back in time to the late 60s.

Having a Groovy time at SERVPRO Conference!

This Annual Convention is a very special one as we celebrate 50 years of making history as a cleaning and restoration company. We are so honored and proud to be a part of ONE TEAM and the SERVPRO family. Ted and Doris Isaacson launched SERVPRO in the late 60s in Sacramento, CA. It sure was a “groovy” decision because we are now the top leader in Restoration Services!

FUN FACT... SERVPRO started off as a painting business.

Scott and Libby Demuth, owners of SERVPRO of Black Hawk County enjoyed a week of reenergizing and restoration at the convention. The week included a golf outing, key speakers like John Gordon, a reception, educational workshops and so much more. Not to mention, so many photo ops with great leaders from corporate, photo booths, and the new SERVPRO tattoo Corporate gave us! No worries, it isn’t permanent.

Our vision is to be the premier cleaning and restoration company in the world.

As we mentioned, we are proud to be a part of a franchise that strives for excellence within our employees and with serving our customers in their time of need. We can’t wait to reunite again next year at the conference!

Tips on how to avoid water damage from Kitchen Appliances

7/8/2019 (Permalink)

Fridge and dishwasher leaked water. The fridge was removed and the production crew made a flood cut to dry the walls and cabinets.

Did you wake up to find your kitchen flooded by an appliance?? Call us at (319) 268-1521.

Most of us think nothing of turning on the dishwasher before bed or as we leave for work, but malfunction or lack of maintenance on appliances can cause severe water damage if unnoticed for a long period of time. We have a few maintenance tips to avoid such a problem.

Top Kitchen Appliances that can cause Water Damage are…

  • Dishwasher
  • Refrigerator Water and Ice Dispenser

Dishwasher Tips and How to Clean the Filter.

  1. The dishwashers water line can slowly deteriorate over the years. Check your water line connection regularly.
  2. If you see a puddle of water near the dishwasher every time you run it, turn off the water valve to your dishwasher is connected to and call a plumber. The plumber will help you determine the issue. Besides a worn-out water line, issues may result from old gaskets, door issue, and a clogged drain.
  3. Wipe your filter with a paper towel to remove all the gunk. Then run it under warm water or dip it in vinegar for a few hours. *

Refrigerator Ice Maker Tips and How to Clean it.

  1. Avoid moving the refrigerator so as not to misalign the copper tubing that supplies the water to the fridge.
  2. If it is leaking, turn off the water valve and call your plumber or an appliance expert.
  3. To clean your dispenser, turn off the water valve and unscrew the copper tubing. Pour vinegar into the tube letting it run downward. Throw away the ice. Connect the copper tubing. Throw away the first batch of ice cubes. Run the water dispenser until all vinegar has run through. Scrub the outside of the dispenser with a small brush that’s been dipped in vinegar.*
  4. To extend the life of your water filter, Take the filter and wipe off large particles with a paper towel. Soak the filter in warm water with vinegar. Rinse under running water until it runs clean. Let it air dry. *

*All appliances are different so please check your manual or call an appliance expert to clean out your appliance.

If you are experiencing some water damage, click here for some tips on what you can do until help arrives.

The ROOF is on Fire… Shingles VS Metal

7/6/2019 (Permalink)

The red roof of a small home in Waterloo after a fire. No damage on the outside is noticeable except for the doorway where smoke tried to escape.

Do we have any HGTV fans out there?

Well, as a restoration company that works with a lot of homeowners, we tend to also be a fan. We are noticing the emergence of metal roofing, not only on our favorite home improvement show but in some of the houses that our production crew are working on. Recently, we had to do board-up of a home in Waterloo from a fire. This small home had a red metal roof. We started to wonder whether metal roofs may have added to the fire damage so we did a little research. Here are a few pros and cons that can help you make a well-informed decision on choosing what type of roof is best for your home.

 Shingle Roof Pros:

  • Asphalt shingles are very inexpensive and can possibly outweigh the price of a long-term metal.
  • They tend to be easier to install and replace. Some can be installed within 1-2 days.
  • It is less expensive to repair.

Shingle Roof Cons:

  • Shingles usually need to be replaced every 12-17 years.
  • If you live in your home for a long time it may be a higher long-term cost.
  • It absorbs heat and performs poorly in extreme heat which can cause cracking.

Metal Roof Pros:

  • It can last up to 50 years.
  • Outperforms other roofs in its weathering as well as being non-combustible.
  • It is environmentally friendly as it reflects heat helping keep the house cool and the energy bill low.

Metal Roof Cons:

  • The cost can range from $150-$1,400 per square.
  • Depending on the type of metal, they are more prone to denting.
  • In the case of a fire that starts inside the home, it may be harder for firemen to cut through the roof to ease the fire. A fire department might not have the right equipment for metal roofing.

So, does a metal roof increase fire damage in a home?

Not necessarily...A house fire is dangerous and will cause damage no matter the roof your home has. Firefighters who are well equipped and well trained can help stop the fire at home but unfortunately, your home may suffer from smoke and soot damage as well as smoke odors. 

We can help restore your home and belongings after a fire. Call us at (319) 268-1512.





Sump Pump Maintenance before a Thunderstorm

6/26/2019 (Permalink)

Maintenance on your sump pump can help avoid a wet basement during a thunderstorm.

Thunderstorms are looming over the Cedar Valley

Summer is starting off with Scattered Thunderstorms according to the weather forecast for Waterloo, IA and Cedar Falls, IA. Hopefully, that doesn’t ruin too much of our summer plans and to make sure nothing worsens… like a flooded basement… SERVPRO of Black Hawk County wants to remind you to check your sump pump.


Thunderstorms can bring forth rain, floods, strong winds, hail, tornadoes and of course lighting. Here are a few tips on some preventative things you can do before a thunderstorm to try to avoid a flooded basement due to a sump pump failure.

  • Check to see if the floatation device is not lodged from debris build up or simply wearing out.
  • Remove debris, especially after heavy rainfall.
  • Test the floatation device by pouring water into the sump basin to trigger the pump. The float should move freely and the sump pump will activate when the water gets high enough. Let the pump remove most of the water and make sure it shuts off when the water is only a few inches deep.
  • Repeat this test one more time.
  • If the pump fails to operate smoothly, the float switch or entire pump may require repair or replacement
  • Check to see that the intake screen or discharge pipe are not clogged.
  • Purchase a battery-operated pump or have a generator to use if the pump were to stop due to power failure.
  • Regularly check on your sump pump.


Remember that during a thunderstorm, please avoid touching metal and water since electricity can travel through. We hope this helps keep your basement dry but if your basement does get wet or currently has some water damage, please give us a call at (319) 268-1521 and we will make it “Like it never even happened.”

Commercial Business References: “Tooting Our Own Horn”!

6/20/2019 (Permalink)

Water extraction taking place in a storage room after a water pipe broke and flooded a commercial department store.

‘Tooting your own horn’, bragging about what someone has accomplished, is often frowned upon. We are taught to be humble and modest when it comes sharing about ourselves. But when you need to know who to reach out to in certain circumstances, you DO want to hear of their accomplishments! It’s one of the top ways we make decisions when choosing almost anything these days. We read reviews and ask for referrals, convincing ourselves of one’s merit.

Since 2012, SERVPRO of Black Hawk County has been cleaning up commercial businesses in the Cedar Valley as well as in nearby cities as close as Janesville, north to New Hampton, and south to Grundy Center- and every town in between. We want to showcase the businesses and the wide scope of work we have had cleaning up:

  • Warehouses: ConAgra in Waterloo, Metal Fab in New Hampton, Black Hawk Engineering in Cedar Falls
  • Hotels & Event Centers: Courtyard by Marriott & Days Inn in Waterloo, the Suburban in Cedar Falls, Prairie Links in Waverly
  • Hospital, nursing homes, apartment buildings: MercyOne in Waterloo, NewAldaya in Cedar Falls, President Hotel & Pineview Apartments in Waterloo, Evansdale emergency service building
  • Offices: Braceabiltiy in Cedar Falls, TechWorks in Waterloo, Pioneer in Grundy Center, LSB in Hudson and Reinbeck
  • Stores: HyVee, Gordmans, & Slumberland in Waterloo, Tires for You in Sumner
  • Restaurants: Swan Lake in Independence, Tipzy Bar & Grill in Raymond, Tokoyo in Waterloo, Godfathers in Waverly, Los Cabos in Cedar Falls
  • Churches in New Hampton, Fredsville, Cedar Falls, Waterloo, Reinbeck, Aplington
  • Elementary, middle schools & high schools in Northeast Iowa

CALL SERVPRO of Black Hawk County, 319.268.1521, for additional references.
LOOK at our website, www.SERVPROblackhawkcounty.com and see the work we have completed.
READ the reviews commercial business owners have written.
TRUST that we can help your commercial business during a water or fire crisis.

Water Spigot leaks into Split Level Home

6/17/2019 (Permalink)

Technician Work on Water Damage from Spigot Leak

The Phone Call

The last day of the week, SERVPRO of Black Hawk County got a call for a water damage job. The call was received in the office where our CEO Scott Demuth took down the name, address, and telephone number. He then called Evan, a production manager who was already out in the field, to go to the house to inspect the situation and set a plan of action on how to remove the water. Before Evan arrived at the customer’s home, Evan called the customer to introduce himself and give him an estimated time of arrival. The customer was running an errand so there was a quick coffee stop at our local cafe Sidecar.

The Arrival

After, Evan drove up to a nice neighborhood with newer homes. Evan parked his truck and brought in an iPad, a small black case that held a handheld moisture meter and a thermal hydrometer, and a moisture meter gun or a Hydrosensor. The customer just arrived and was waiting on the front porch. The customer led Evan inside the house. Gary (the customer) started entering the house as he started to talk about the situation in the lower level of his home but was interrupted by the barking of a small, cute dog. The customer warned Evan that his dog isn’t very friendly with strangers but Evan is not scared of no cute dog. He proceeded to introduce himself to Gary (the customer) and went to great details of what he will be doing there.

The Intro

“Hi Gary, I’m Evan, a production manager from SERVPRO. We just spoke a moment ago. I heard you have a water situation in the basement caused possibly by a water spigot. I’m going to go over what to expect by my visit. I will inspect the damage and then after that, I have a few documents that I will need you to sign before we can get started with our services. I have a production team on their way with the equipment so they should be here shortly. Can you show me the location of the water damage?”

The Situation

Gary lead Evan downstairs to a walkout basement. They walked towards a corner by sliding doors leading to the backyard. There was a wall that connected two rooms. On the other side of the room was a guest bedroom.  The water seems to have stemmed from that corner. Gary let us know that there’s a spigot outside that seems to be right in between this wall. Gary and his wife had recently started using the spigot to water their outside plants. The other day, his wife went down to the lower level to work on a craft project when she felt the squish of the water by the table near that corner. Gary let us know that there will be a plumber to check it on Monday. Evan took out his handy dandy Hydrosensor and started poking it to the carpet. It beeped loudly, letting Evan know that it was definitely wet. He then walked further from the corner until the beeping didn’t occur to determine how far the affected area was. He then went to the guest bedroom and repeated the same thing. Luckily, the affected area wasn’t too large. He then pulled up the carpet from the corner and noticed a small growth of mold spores. The carpet pad that lay underneath the carpet had a moisture barrier on the top but it did little to prevent the water that came from below.

The Plan

Evan told him that we will start by extracting any water from the carpet and carpet pad. Then, we will cut out the affected carpet pad which can later be replaced. Then, we will spray the carpet and floors with an antibacterial to prevent odor-causing bacteria. The team will also cut out about 15” of drywall which is referred to as a flood cut. This will allow easy access to the spigot for the plumbers and to avoid further growth of bacteria caused by moisture. We will then pull out the affected baseboard and tack strip that have been warped by the moisture. After, we will set up a dehumidifier and air dryers that are strategically placed to dry up the moisture.

The Documents

Evan then read through documents that needed to be signed before the plan can be started. He thoroughly read each document, clarifying any concerns or questions that Gary had. These documents include an Authorization to Perform and Direction of Payment Form, Customer Information Form, and Customer Equipment Responsibility Form. This took only about 10-12 minutes to complete. During that time, Chris our technician arrived with the truck.

Plan into Action

Our other technicians were held back at other jobs but Evan was able to help Chris get the process started. The team did everything as planned while Gary took a break upstairs with the confidence and trust that SERVPRO will make it “Like it never even happened.”

CALL US AT (319) 268-1521

If you have water damage caused by a leak, be confident that we will be there as soon as we can to prevent further damage and help restore your home. Water damage that is left ignored may cause further problems to your home. We have a hard-working team that gets the job done so you won’t have to!


The Terrifying Truth about Laundry

6/16/2019 (Permalink)

Don't let your laundry become an absent-minded activity. It needs more attention and supervision than you realize.

Most of us pride ourselves for being incredibly talented multi-taskers, going through life and getting stuff done. That’s great and all, but there comes a time where it’s actually dangerous to multi-task. For instance, laundry is not something you want to do while you’re away from home because two major disasters can happen the minute you leave your home.

Water Loss Potential

The first one being a water loss when your washing machine’s water line breaks or starts leaking. Another possibility is the hose hooked up to your washer can actually become detached due to the shaking and shifting of the machine. Wouldn’t that be a fun surprise to come home and see your entire laundry room floor is covered in water? Actually, no. It’s not fun. We would know.

Fire Loss Potential

The second major disaster that is likely to occur is a fire sparking from the clogged lint in your dryer vent. With fires being so unpredictable, we strongly advise you do not hit the start button before you run some errands in town. An extra precaution we advise is cleaning out your lint trap before and after each use, and on a yearly basis, clean out the vent pipe or have a dryer lint removal service do it for you.

Lesson Learned

We know it’s tempting to get two things done at once, but this is one task that needs more of your attention and presence.

Taking Time for Your Timeless Pieces: Removing Soot from Furniture

6/8/2019 (Permalink)

Soot covered shelf RESTORED!

When we think of fire damage, we all can visualize the blaze and burned, charred items. What we don’t think of are the hidden effects that soot from the fire causes. Smoke carries the ash and particles throughout the house to places you would never think and deposits a thick layer of soot.

 It is everywhere: black lines emerging from air vents, nestled behind outlet covers, and of course, completely covering and darkening furniture.  At first glance, you might not even notice it on wooden furniture. But if you remove an item, you will see distinct outlines of it, almost looking like a painting.

Unlike a dusty room, where furniture polish will wipe it away, fire soot includes the fine particles made up from a wide variety of materials like wood, paper, plastic, and other synthetic items. It contains acids and chemicals and is actually smaller than dust or even mold, resulting in a serious cleanup problem!

SERVPRO has spent extensive time researching and formulating cleaning solutions that we use to remove soot particles. Trained technicians use the cleaners, taking great measures to remove all the soot from every crevice. Patience and good ole q-tips help in this effort.

SERVPRO of Black Hawk County stands proud over the items successfully rescued and restored for you!

Borrowing Equipment from other SERVPROs

5/29/2019 (Permalink)

We're only as good as the equipment we have on hand. That's why it's essential we have a backup plan when all of our equipment is in use.

Picture This:

You’re in the middle of making cookies when you realize you’re short a cup of sugar. Without thinking twice, you call up your neighbor and ask if they can spot you the cup of sugar. Of course, they say, “Absolutely! Come on over.”

How does this translate to SERVPRO?

This is similar to what happens when we are preparing to help a homeowner or business. We take inventory of what equipment we have, and if we happen to be a few air movers short, we call up our SERVPRO neighbors in the surrounding area and do a switch-a-roo! SERVPRO is actually the only restoration franchise that teams up to help each other out in times of need. All other franchises are owned and operated independently without association with one another.

So what?

This buddy system we have in place allows us to help YOU faster, and we know from experience that response time is critical in emergencies. If we can get to you even a day sooner, you’ll be much better off, and the damage will be significantly less because of the response time.

In addition, with this buddy system, we’re able to take on bigger jobs because we know our SERVPRO neighbors are waiting at the sidelines to step in at a moment notice to lend a helping hand.

What can we say? We’re here to help.

SERVPRO Professional Cleaning Products Division

5/19/2019 (Permalink)

Our cleaners are not something you can buy off the shelf. They are exclusive to SERVPRO franchises.

The SERVPRO Professional Cleaning Products, LLC (SPCP) team works diligently to help SERVPROs across the nation succeed with top-notch cleaning products. Our SERVPRO Corporate Headquarters offers an extensive cleaning product and agent line to the local SERVPROs in your community.

They produce 89 cleaning products on site throughout the year. They also have 61 cleaning products from outside vendors (which are a lot of aerosols since we don’t have the capability of making those on campus.) Combined, the SPCP team offers a total of 150 cleaning products to assist your local SERVPRO.

Why is this important?

When SERVPRO production crews are out on a job, they are likely using SERVPRO’s proprietary products. This allows us to own the cleaning and restoring products by offering an exclusive line available only to SERVPRO customers. The SPCP team motto is, “Supporting Franchises through research, development, testing, and production of high-quality cleaning products."

SPCP has 6 Team Members:

  • Gary Slagle
    • SERVPRO Professional Cleaning Products Manager
  • Hugh Lloyd
    • Chemist
  • Tom Jennings Jr
    • Lead Blender
  • Brian Adams
    • Blender
  • Michael Houghton
    • Blender
  • Jennifer Berry
    • Tech Support

A Win for us is a Win for You:

Having these valuable individuals on our team is what makes us different from other restoration companies. We’ve put in the time and dedication to develop our own cleaning products and find the best methods and practices to meet your cleanup needs. This reduces the time it takes to fully restore your home or business and put your life back together.

We are extremely thankful to these bright team members for keeping us SERVPRO Strong.

Phone a Friend When You Leave for Vacation

5/11/2019 (Permalink)

Vacation should remain worry-free when you have a responsible neighbor watching over your home.

As summer approaches, we want to encourage you to recruit a friendly neighbor to check more than mail while you’re away on vacation. We’ve seen it all too many times where people will leave for a short week, for the vacation of a lifetime, only to find a disaster waiting in their basement as they return.

But it doesn’t have to be like that…

Many times, when people “check-in” to see if a vacant home is okay, they’ll peak around the main level and assume everything is okay. We encourage the friendly neighbor to walk down into the basement to check for any water that may have leaked in overnight. After you confirm the basement is dry, we suggest checking the furnace room as well to ensure the heating and cooling systems are “A-Okay” as well.

Be Proactive

With so many things that can go wrong in life, we want to encourage you to be proactive. Call SERVPRO of Black Hawk County, immediately, if you do find water in your basement. As always, we’ll be here to help.

When Spring Storms Keep You Indoors - Spring Cleaning Tips

4/21/2019 (Permalink)

Sponges ready. It's spring cleaning time.

Here’s a checklist to reference as you tackle the fun task of spring cleaning:

Whole Home

  • Change smoke alarm batteries
  • Clean/polish fixtures
  • Clean mirrors and glass
  • Clean rugs, floors & baseboards
  • Dust/polish furniture
  • Dust bookshelves; donate books
  • Dust light fixtures & bulbs
  • Replace old light bulbs
  • Wipe walls & ceilings
  • Wash curtains
  • Wash light fixtures/ceiling fans
  • Wash windows

Living Room

  • Organize room clutter
  • Shampoo sofa cushions


  • Clean & sanitize sink
  • Clean & sanitize tubs, shower & toilet
  • Clean out the medicine cabinet
  • Clean under the bathroom sink
  • Dispose of expired medicine


  • Clean & sanitize sink
  • Clean appliances (inside and out)
  • Clean oven
  • Clean pantry; toss old food
  • Clean refrigerator/freezer
  • Polish stainless-steel appliances
  • Wash cabinet (inside and out)


  • Clean garage
  • Clean gutters
  • Clean house siding
  • Clean patio furniture
  • Clean porch/deck/patio
  • Landscaping
  • Seal driveway
  • Wash/inspect light fixtures


  • Clean out closets & donate
  • Put away winter bedding
  • Rotate mattress
  • Wash bedding

If you need any help with deep cleaning in your carpets, we'd be happy to help. Please call (319) 268-1521.

Spontaneous Combustion of Rags

4/13/2019 (Permalink)

Spontaneous Combustion can cause serious fires if not attended to.

Have you ever heard of something catching fire out of the blue without being exposed to an open flame? Believe it or not, this can actually happen. It’s called a spontaneous combustion fire.

Tell Me More

In these cases, oil-soaked rags can slowly heat to their ignition point through a process called oxidation. The products that are at risk include oil-based paints and stains, teak oils, varnishes, paint thinners, etc. Heat will begin to release from the rags; however, if the heat cannot escape, the temperature will increase to a level high enough to ignite.

It can Happen to Anyone

SERVPRO of Black Hawk County has responded to several calls where the fire was caused by spontaneous combustion. The true danger is if the fire starts while you are away from your home. Damage can happen all too quickly when time is on a fire’s side.


We encourage you to properly dispose of your rags after exposed to oily substances. The best method is to place the rags in a metal trashcan with a tightly fitted lid on top. You can then fill the remaining space in the trashcan with water to prevent the rags from heating up. However, this is a temporary solution. The long-term answer is to wash the rags in a hot cycle as soon as possible.

Hopefully, you will never experience such an occurrence, but if there is a necessity for clean up after a fire, know that SERVPRO of Black Hawk County can assist you!

Additional Source: https://www.bendoregon.gov/

We Care About More Than Your Home or Business

3/25/2019 (Permalink)

Our "Be Ready" kits are the perfect fix for seasonal colds and allergies.

SERVPRO of Black Hawk County cares about more than just your home or business. We also care about YOU as a person.

Although we all try to be superheroes on a daily basis, we sometimes fall short because we’re human. Our strong, but vulnerable, bodies cannot always fight off illness when we are thriving 110% of the time.

Going the Extra Mile for You

Since we formulate Emergency Ready Profiles (ERP’s) for businesses and homes regularly, we decided to do something similar for the business and homeowners. This led to our “Be Ready” packages.

We included the following items:

  • Sprite: settles an upset stomach
  • Chicken Ramen Noodles: clear broth soup and noodles are hydrating because they contain water and salt, and those two together are good properties for hydration especially after the stomach flu
  • Applesauce: a bland food is easy to digest, ensuring your stomach stays settled
  • Jell-O: easy to swallow on a sore throat
  • Chamomile Tea: lowers stress levels & helps with sleep
  • Cough Drops: temporarily relieves cough
  • Chapstick: moisturizes dehydrated lips

Self-Care is the Best Care

These are the items that are typically needed when people are feeling under the weather but are not always on hand. The last thing anyone wants to do when they’re sick is run to the store to pick up a “few” items.

As always, we do it because we “CURE” about you!

Things to Keep in Mind When Buying a Home

3/24/2019 (Permalink)

It pays to take your time and do your research when making big purchases.

Buying a home is no small purchase. In fact, most people spend 20 years paying off their home. That’s why we want you to be well-informed as you make a decision of a lifetime.

Beware of Flood Zones

The first item you should focus on is location. Is the home in a flood zone? Are there any bodies of water nearby that could threaten your home? Particularly, if you’re moving to a new area, it’s even more important to do your own research on the area to ensure you’re aware of any potential problems.

Look for Water-Related Problems

Next, you should be aware of the ground the home sits on. Will water go toward the house or away? The answer should always be away. Be particularly cautious if the home is located at the bottom of a hill. The last thing you want is for your investment to become a money pit as soon as it starts raining. Landscaping can a quick fix in some cases, but not always.

Get a Second Opinion from an Expert

We highly recommend hiring a home inspector to give you closure that the home is structurally sound and won’t give you problems. The most expensive thing to renovate in a home is everything behind the walls (bathrooms and kitchens are the worst cost-wise). So even if the floors have been redone and the cabinets have been replaced, don’t be too quick in making a decision.

There's an app for that! The ITEL speeds up productivity.

3/20/2019 (Permalink)

The ITEL app at work!

Technology is helping save time, money, and energy in more ways all the time.

SERVPRO of Black Hawk County is thankful for the advances it has brought to us in determining replacement costs for carpet and pad after a water loss. The ITEL app is one more way we are implementing to help reduce stress for customers and insurance agencies alike.

Previously, our office administrator, Lisa, would cut the samples to the correct size, bag them up, and ship them to Florida. A specialized company there would evaluate the sample and send back results for the adjuster and insurance company to settle on reimbursement. With mailing, the risk of losing samples, coupled with the wait time, evaluation and then reporting, took weeks. This process made restoring a customer’s home or business lengthy.

Now, after cutting carpet and pad samples to the correct size, our job coordinator, Nikki, can simply use the ITEL app to submit a test for the claim in a matter of minutes. Results are provided in 30 minutes or less. The app is so easy and convenient; it does not require education or prior experience with these materials. It guides you with step by step pictures and videos for user ease.

Another bonus is the ITEL app communicates to the insurance company itself! The whole process eliminates the lengthy wait and speeds up decision making.

SERVPRO of Black Hawk County is thankful technology is helping us get your home or business back together so quickly!

CE Classes for Insurance Pros - April 25th, 2019

3/9/2019 (Permalink)

Join us for a day of Continuing Education with Todd Davis.

SERVPRO of Black Hawk County has a history of hosting Continuing Education (CE) classes for insurance agents at Hawkeye Community College located in Waterloo, and this year is no different. On April 25, we will have two classes with Todd Davis as our instructor.

Todd has been a great addition to our class time traditions. Many agents have complimented that he keeps the information relevant and interesting. He is an independent insurance agent with the Davis Agency Insurance based in Peoria, Illinois, and he has 30 years of experience as an insurance agent.

Our spring classes are as follows on April 25:

  • 8:30 am – 12:30 pm | LIFE: The Next Generation – 4 Credit Hours
  • 1:00 pm –  4:00 pm |  21st Century Ethics – 3 Credit Hours

It is $20 to attend one class and $35 to attend both. The fee covers the class as well as lunch.

Space is limited, so we encourage you to register as early as possible. Registration can be completed by emailing debbie@SERVPRObhc.com, calling 319-268-1521, or completing the form on our website.

We hope to see you there!

What You Need to Know About Sewer Backup Coverage

2/18/2019 (Permalink)

Be your own advocate and ask your agent about your sewer backup coverage today.

Insurance can be a tricky concept to understand. There’s just so much to know that it’s no surprise that we miss details here and there. One detail we want you to be aware of is your policy regarding sewer backup. Every insurance policy is different in this matter, and we strongly recommend consulting with your agent to ensure you are covered.

It's Becoming More Common

Sewer backup happens all too often when it’s least expected. In fact, sewer backups are increasing at an annual rate of 3%. That’s an alarming percentage because it’s happening in homes that haven’t encountered it for 30 plus years, and it’s also happening in homes that are fairly new. The fact is no discrimination is involved when life decides to throw something unexpected your way.

Protect Your Home 

One way you can protect your home is to add a sewer backup endorsement to your policy. It’ll only cost you $40 to $250 annually depending on your home and location, and it covers thousands of dollars more than the included coverage. Please note this is different from water backup coverage.

It is Your Responsibility

According to Insurance Information Institute, “Most homeowners may not realize that they are responsible for the maintenance and repair of their house or sewer lateral—that is, the pipeline between the city sanitary sewer main (which is usually located in the street) and the building.”

Causes of Increased Sewer Backups:

  • Aging sewer lines
  • Combined pipelines
  • Tree roots
  • Sanitary main blockages

Let's Talk Cost

A typical sewer backup can cost anywhere from $500 to over $5,000 in repairs and cleaning. It is heavily dependent on whether or not the sewer backup occurs in a finished basement or not.

Start the Conversation

 We hope this information encourages you to spark up a conversation with your agent because it’s easily overlooked. Even one of our employees found out she didn’t have coverage when she joined our team, but now she’s all set with the additional coverage.

Additional Sources: https://budgeting.thenest.com/

5 C's SERVPRO Employees do Every Day

2/15/2019 (Permalink)

We put lives back together one person at a time.


We instill confidence in the homeowner or business because we are professionally trained to restore their items and space.

Clean Up

We do all of the cleaning, packing, organizing, and returning of items to their previous state. During this process, we also clean up after ourselves and leave your space in an organized and tidy manner.


We cut, tear, and haul out the drywall, carpet, appliance, and excess items that can’t be restored.

Carpet Cleaning

When we’re not responding to an emergency, we also do residential and commercial cleaning, including carpet and upholstery.


As weird as it may sound, we help people get through their loss emotionally as well by listening to them and consoling them when they’re at their lowest. This part is just as crucial as the actual cleaning and construction.

SERVPRO First Responder Bowl

1/31/2019 (Permalink)

This was the first bowl game to honor first responders, and we're so honored to have been a part of the experience.

On December 26, 2018, the First Responder Bowl was set to take place in Dallas, Texas. Unfortunately, due to severe weather, the game was delayed several times before making history as the first bowl game to be canceled. The irony of SERVPRO’s slogan, “Like it never even happened,” hung in the air as many disappointed fans packed up and traveled home.

Despite the unfortunate turn of events, we were still able to celebrate and honor the men and women who have dedicated their lives to being first responders. Awards were awarded and applause was applauded. Not even Mother Nature could take away from the special day.

In better hopes for next year, the First Responder Bowl offered a full game ticket refund or tickets to next year’s game at no cost. Our fingers are already crossed for better weather next time.

Northeast Iowa Food Bank Donation

1/18/2019 (Permalink)

Product Technicians, Devon and Keiland, donate non-perishable and self-care items for the food drive.

It takes a great deal of compassion to work at SERVPRO because we walk with people through their losses. These same individuals who put their heart and souls into their jobs have passions outside of work as well. One of them being the Northeast Iowa Food Bank.

This past November and December, SERVPRO of Black Hawk County hosted a food drive during the holiday season. The idea stemmed from Devon Burgess, Product Technician. His support for the Northeast Iowa Food Bank runs deep in his being, and he moved the rest of the team to make a difference during the season of giving.

The Northeast Iowa Food Bank was recently recognized as the 19th best in the country, and that’s thanks to the support of the community and organization of the Food Bank, itself.

After finishing our food drive, we were notified that we donated 76 lbs. of food. We will continue to donate to local nonprofits because that’s what we do—we help people!

Ultrasonic Cleaner to the Rescue

1/10/2019 (Permalink)

The Ultrasonic Cleaner is like no other piece of equipment.

Our brand-new toy—I mean equipment—keeps impressing us even after the holidays. The Ultrasonic Cleaner is a unique machine that is used to restore fire and water damaged items.

With the help of sound waves, the Ultrasonic Cleaner is able to create millions of tiny vapor bubbles that instantaneously implode. This collection of energy is then able to produce the tremendous energy needed for the most efficient cleaning process. The time-saving capabilities have been jaw-dropping.

Without the owner’s manual, we’d probably bypass the science behind the entire process altogether and settle for the simpler explanation: it’s magic.

If you want to truly be impressed, take a peek at all of the items this machine can restore:

  • Electronics – televisions, VCR, DVD, telephones
  • Antiques – silver, crystal, metals, finished wood, ceramics
  • Specialty – delicate or intricate objects
  • Kitchen Appliances – coffee machines, toasters, food processors
  • Computer – monitors, keyboards, CPU’s, printers

When you find yourself in a disaster, don’t be quick to throw away your belongings. Odds are, we can bring them back to their previous state. Give us a call at (319) 268-1521.

Ringing in the New Year of 2019

1/2/2019 (Permalink)

As we settle into the new year, we wanted to give you an update on your local SERVPRO location.

New Team Members:

At the tail-end of 2018, our team gained four new compassionate team members who made the courageous decision to put peoples’ lives back together. Keiland Woodson, Jeremy Towsley, Chuck Frost, and Adam Koch have all jumped in as Production Technicians. We’re overjoyed to have them on board with us. 

New Equipment:

That’s not all that’s new. After a year of being good little helpers, Santa brought us a new piece of equipment! The Ultrasonic Cleaner has proven to be an efficient tool in the short time that we’ve had it. The superpowers of our Ultrasonic Cleaner include restoring fire, water, and mold damaged items and electronics back to their original state using non-toxic cleaning bubbles.

Prior to having this asset, our Production Technicians had to spend a large sum of time in our warehouse cleaning items by hand or in a small tub of SERVPRO cleaning solutions. However, now, we are able to send our Production Technicians out in the field at a faster rate. We anticipate using this piece of equipment for both residential and commercial losses because of its time-saving capabilities.

Christmas Tree Safety

1/2/2019 (Permalink)

We're taking our advice and are putting away our office tree for the year.

With the holidays coming to an end, we want to encourage you to dispose or store your Christmas tree sooner rather than later. The reason being it’s a fire hazard, regardless if you have a real or artificial tree, and the dryer the tree, the bigger the fire hazard. In fact, nearly 40% of U.S. home fires that begin with Christmas trees occur in January.

In light of the holiday season winding down, we’d like to give you a list of tips to consider when getting your tree next holiday season.

1. Fresh is best: Buy a tree that isn’t previously cut to prevent it from drying out before you bring it home.

2. Do your research: If you have a pre-lit artificial tree, check to see if it’s been recalled. Often times, these kinds of trees are recalled due to exposed wiring and electrical shock hazards.

3. Hydration is key: Keep your tree well-watered throughout the entire holiday season to keep your tree green and fire free.

4. Lights out: Don’t leave lights plugged in when you leave your home or go to bed. If a fire sparks, you want to be the first to know.

5. Flames lead to blame: Keep open flames, such as candles, away from the tree at all times.

6. Your outlets need breaks too: Don’t overload your electrical sockets when plugging in Christmas tree lights.

Drying water out behind items with the Injectidry System.

9/19/2018 (Permalink)

Drying out behind wet cabinets after a rainstorm.

Time is of the essence when drying out the areas you can’t see or easily get to after a heavy rain storm floods a basement in Waterloo, Iowa. When water gets and sits behind cabinets it creates the perfect conditions for fungi to grow as well as deterioration of wood materials!

The Injectidry system is the way to disperse and circulate air BEHIND things to dry it out. It utilizes a regular air mover by attaching the large “lego look-alike” piece to the front and adding as many hoses as necessary to spread the air around. The hoses focus the air to specific cavities that are wet. SERVPRO of Black Hawk County drilled holes in the kickplate area of the cabinets to permit the hoses to be positioned for directional air distribution.

The finished basement was restored by the use of the Injectidry system instead of demolished due to hidden water.

There's No Place Like Home!

9/18/2018 (Permalink)

Our Job File Coordinator using the software Xactimate.

It’s a twister, it’s a twister! When a storm hits don’t call around from place to place to see who claims to have the lowest remediation cost; SERVPRO of Black Hawk County uses the industry standard program called Xactimate to calculate the estimate of your loss. Remediation companies and insurance adjusters across the board are using Xactimate to calculate cost. So rather than making dozens of frustrating phone calls, make your first call to your locally owned SERVPRO helping individuals and businesses in Black Hawk, Bremer, Grundy, Buchanan, Fayette and Tama counties. Connect by calling 319.268.1521.

It’s more important to begin the remediation process as soon as possible and when the chaos of a storm hits, our whole team will be doing their part. A vital position in our local office is the Job File Coordinator. They organize the calls that come in ensuring from the moment you meet our project manager to production technicians cleaning up the storm mess to final paperwork including insurance details, you’re taken care of by SERVPRO to 100% satisfaction.

You can trust in SERVPRO to get your home feeling like home again.  As we know, there’s no place like home.

Disposal of Ashes

8/13/2018 (Permalink)

WARNING: Do not put ashes in a plastic trash can. We know from personal experience that it does not end well.

As the end of summer draws near, we’d like to address the proper way to dispose of any left-over ashes you may have sitting in your fire pit.

Be Safe:

Always treat ashes as if they’re hot when removing them because they can stay hot for several days after the initial fire. It all depends on the heat of the fire and what was burned.

Proper Disposal:

  • Wait several days after a fire to remove the ashes—just to be safe
  • Place the ashes in a metal trash can and dump some water on top
  • Be sure the trash can is placed far away from anything that would catch fire such as a home, garage, or tree
  • Keep the trash can away from any combustibles

What not to do:

The person who sent us these photos found out the hard way the improper way to dispose of ashes. Let’s walk through some basic techniques that should be avoided:

  • Placing ashes in a trash can the day after a fire
  • Using a plastic trash can for the disposal
  • Having the trash can right next to the house

Thank goodness a friendly neighbor noticed the smoking trash can, or this could have been a more serious case. The only damage was to the trash can.

Timeline of Events:

The time-lapse of the destroyed trash can was within a 3-hour window. The ashes were placed at 1 pm, and the destroyed trash can was found at 4 pm.

Spread the Word:

This a mistake that is too easy to make, and that’s why we love to educate people. Please share this information, so no one makes the same mistake.

Source: https://www.portlandoregon.gov/

Are you prepared?

7/30/2018 (Permalink)

  1. What’s in your basement that you would be devastated to lose? MOVE IT!
  • Tubs are helpful but not a ‘for sure’ method of something being saved because they can flip upside down!
  • Be sure your sump pump is on its own electric circuit. Have a battery operated one for a true back up!
  • Keep it at least 3-4ft off the floor. Shelving at these heights can be more helpful for storage.
  1. Where are your important documents, pictures, passwords/usernames, codes, keys?
  • Make sure you have copies in a lock box at a different location than your home.
  • Use flash drives, DVD's, or CD’s along with a notebook entry. Keep a copy with someone else and in the lockbox.
  1. How many items do you have plugged into electrical outlets?
  • Do you regularly leave your phone charger plugged in WITHOUT the phone? A growing number of fires caused this way!
  • Know the amps available in your home. Just because there is an outlet doesn’t mean you can plug multiple items into all of them and carry the load without it causing an issue.

The lesson is don't keep your most important items in your basement because it's the most likely place to endure a loss.

For further questions, contact SERVPRO of Black Hawk County at (319) 268-1521.

Different Mold Types Part 1

7/27/2018 (Permalink)

Mold can come in any shape and color. Check out these mold samples.

2 Classifications of Harmful Molds:

  • Allergenic: Molds that cause allergies and allergic reactions like asthma attacks.
  • Toxigenic: Molds that produce toxic substances that can lead to dangerous conditions.

Different types of mold:

1. Acremonium: A toxigenic mold type that changes in its appearance over time, and it typically grows in humidifiers, cooling coils, drain pans, and window sealants.

2. Alternaria: The most common allergenic mold type in the world, and it typically grows wherever dampness occurs (showers, bathtubs, and below leaking sinks). It is very quick to spread.

3. Aspergillus: This allergenic mold type has the potential to become toxic, and it is commonly found in American households. There are over 1,885 species appearing in many different colors.

Source: https://aerindustries.com/

More mold types to come in another blog post.

Different Mold Types Part 2

7/27/2018 (Permalink)

If you find mold in your home, call SERVPRO of Black Hawk County at (319) 268-1521

4. Aureobasidium: An allergenic mold type that can sometimes be found growing behind wallpaper or on painted or wooden surfaces.

5. Chaetomium: A mold commonly found in water-damaged homes and buildings. It has a cotton-like texture and usually changes colors over time.

6. Cladosporium: An allergenic mold type that can grow in both warm and cold conditions. It often is found thriving in indoor materials such as fabrics, upholsteries, and carpets.

7. Fusarium: An allergenic AND toxigenic mold type that grows in homes with water damage. It is capable of growing and spreading at cold temperatures.

8. Mucor: An allergenic form of mold that usually grows in thick patches and grows near air conditioning, HVAC systems, and ducting due to moisture from condensation.

9.Penicillin: An allergenic form of mold that is easily recognizable by its blue or green colored surface with a velvety texture, and it is often found in water damaged buildings.

Source: https://aerindustries.com/ 

How to Put Out a Grease Fire

7/26/2018 (Permalink)

This is the aftermath of a grease fire.

Fires are scary. Grease fires are even scarier because we have to fight off our human instinct to throw water on the blazing flames. Yes, you heard right. Do not throw water on a grease fire. It’ll only make the situation worse. Odds are, if you put water on the grease fire, it’ll A) make it bigger and B) spray grease all over you—which may lead to minor burns.

SERVPRO of Black Hawk County has been building awareness for several months now regarding the proper way to handle grease fires by handing out cans of baking soda. Here are steps to follow when dealing with a grease fire.

1. Get the Baking Soda

The number one way to put out a grease fire is sitting right in your kitchen: baking soda! That white powdery stuff works miracles in dowsing fires in your kitchen. We recommend keeping it in an easy-access area near your stove, but not right above your stove because tall flames can make it nearly impossible to grab in your moment of need.

2. Take Away Its Power

You should also turn off the source of heat as soon as possible. This will keep the fire from growing any bigger. 

3. Grab the Lid

If the fire isn’t too big, you can also cut off the oxygen supply by putting a lid over the pan. Just be careful not to burn yourself in the process.

Again, do NOT pour water on a grease fire. It’s bad news.

We encourage you to educate young teens who are learning to cook about the dangers of grease fires, and as always, if you have any fire damage, give us a call. We’ll make it, “Like it never even happened.”

Emergency Ready Plan

7/23/2018 (Permalink)

Download the SERVPRO Ready Plan app today.

When thinking of a disaster, you hate to think that one would ever happen to you. However, it is very likely at some point in your life, you will be faced with some sort of loss in your home or business.

Have a plan.

SERVPRO has put together a program to prepare you for these life-changing events. It’s called the Emergency Ready Plan (ERP). This tool essentially collects the following information:

  • Emergency contacts (name, phone, email)
  • Main utility information (shut off locations for electric, gas, and water)
  • Additional utility contact info (alarm systems, sprinklers, IT server, etc.)
  • Insurance contact info
  • Property overview (can include contents)
  • Additional notes page for ANYTHING else homeowner/business owner wants to be included

The ERP boosts communication between all individuals alike involved in the restoration process.

To put it simply:

Think of an ERP as the key to get back into your house or business after a major loss. You probably already had an emergency exit plan, but what about the reentry process? No need to worry. That’s where the ERP comes to the rescue.


The ERP can be uploaded to your phone, home computer, or tablet via the mobile app called, “Ready Plan”. It is important to be able to access this information at any given time because life happens. One day your house is fine, and the next it’s not. You’ll want all this information handy and ready to go in case of an emergency.


By filling out an ERP, you are not married to doing business with us. In fact, we hope you never have to, but if you do, we’ll be ready with all the proper information ahead of time.

One last thing:

Perhaps the most important detail is that filling out the ERP takes 20 minutes, and it’s completely FREE. Not to mention if you have any questions, SERVPRO of Black Hawk County is here to help you fill it out because we care. We really do.

You can be RUINED, or you can be READY! Choose to be ready.

Visit https://ready.SERVPRO.com/Account/Register to fill out your ERP today.

Emergency Ready Vehicle

7/23/2018 (Permalink)

Thank your local American Red Cross for all of the amazing work they do.

SERVPRO of Black Hawk County and the American Red Cross (ARC) are working together to ensure the Emergency Ready Vehicle (ERV) is equipped to serve the community in times of need.

Who’s ERV?

ERV brings supplies such as water and blankets to families who have recently encountered a disaster. When not in use, ERV is plugged in as a means to keep it charged and ready to go. Many of the calls that ERV responds to are storm and weather related. 

Opportunity Around the Bend  

Marketing Manager at SERVPRO of Black Hawk County, Debbie Robeson, came across the opportunity to house ERV after being on the Red Cross volunteer community board for almost a year. At the December Holiday party, she heard them talking about the woes of ERV being outside in the elements and how it was limiting them responding to emergencies quickly. Debbie said, “I asked Scott about keeping ERV with us and he was quick to say YES.”

The process started in January and required approval from ARC national headquarters in Washington DC. SERVPRO of Black Hawk County had to meet insurance requirements, upgrade security, and add key code access to their building. The contract was approved in March and the ERV arrived on April 24, 2018.

Looking Ahead

The ARC is looking to replace the current ERV in about year. With the rapid advancement of technology, a new one is overdue. With the help of fundraising, the ARC has already raised over $200,000 for the new vehicle.

Much Praise

Debbie spoke praises of her team when saying, “Scott’s leadership and trust in his team and how they pursue opportunities is a key part of making this possible. His passion for the community and being on the same page helped get this out together so quickly before someone else heard of the opportunity.”

New Skills to Better Serve YOU

7/23/2018 (Permalink)

Here are some of the many certificates received by our versatile technicians.

We are proud to share that some of our technicians have undergone training recently and are now certified in new areas! 

Water Damage Restoration Technician (WRT)

Jake Barkow, Devon Burgess, and Nicole Webb received certificates as Water Damage Restoration Technicians (WRT). The training was a 3-day process where they took the time to learn how to handle different losses.

For instance, in a water loss, they first have to determine what category the water belongs to. The different categories indicate the level of contamination the water has been exposed to.

  • Category 1 – Water comes from a clean source and does not pose a substantial risk from dermal, ingestion, or inhalation exposure.
  • Category 2 – Water contains significant contamination and has the potential to cause discomfort or sickness if contacted or consumed by humans.
  • Category 3 – Water is grossly contaminated and can contain pathogenic, toxigenic, or other harmful agents.

Crazy right? Who would’ve thought there were different categories for water.

Fire and Smoke Restoration Technician (FSRT)

Brett Armfield, Lana Bruhn, Autumn Kelly, and Nicole Webb all received a certificate as a Fire and Smoke Restoration Technician (FSRT). Extra snaps and claps go to Nicole for doing both certifications back-to-back!

Once a technician receives additional training, they are now more versatile and able to take on more responsibilities and leadership roles. For example, our current Project Managers started out as technicians and kept receiving training. With time and mentoring, they both landed leadership roles at SERVPRO in Black Hawk County.

Call for Backup

7/23/2018 (Permalink)

No job is too big for SERVPRO.

In the recent weeks, we have done a fair share of traveling outside of our assigned territory in order to help our neighbors and meet the demand. Just this summer, we have traveled to Mason City and Des Moines to assist with flash flooding.


The “Cool Factor” regarding SERVPRO is our phone tree. If one franchise cannot help a customer, they will pass the call along to another franchise nearby. No other restoration company is the COUNTRY does this. We pride ourselves in having the manpower to handle anything.

Wait, there’s more?

As if that wasn’t cool enough, we even have access to a disaster relief team during very large disasters such as the floods of 2008, 2010, and 2016. In these cases, an entire semi load of equipment is shipped to the disaster area in addition to a full-fledged disaster crew.

Be proactive.

If you are hit by flooding, do not wait to call. Too often water losses turn into mold losses because action isn’t taken. Give us a call before the situation gets out of hand. 

148 Emergency Response Guidlines

7/23/2018 (Permalink)

Backed by 1,700 franchises- you can trust us.

We wait all the time. We wait in line. We wait for our food. We even wait for our packages to arrive in the mail. Well, the wait is over. SERVPRO of Black Hawk County is promising right here and now that you will not have to wait for us.

We acknowledge the importance of emergency response time by living by the 148.

1 – Within one hour from notice of loss, we will contact you to arrange for service

4 – Within four hours of loss of notification, we will be on-site to start mitigation services (if necessary).

8 – Within eight business hours, we will communicate with you what needs to be done and how we will take action.

So, when a water or fire emergency strikes—regardless of the time and day—give us a call. We’ll be there because we’ve got your back. It’s as simple as that.

We'll make it, "Like it never even happened."

SERVPRO 49th Annual Convention Takes Place in Florida

7/18/2018 (Permalink)

We brought the brand to life at the 49th Annual SERVPRO Convention!

Every year our SERVPRO Corporate Headquarters hosts a national meeting where franchises gather together to learn and network. Scott Demuth, owner of SERVPRO of Black Hawk County, and his family attended the week-long convention on behalf of our franchise.

The convention had many workshops during the week and was segmented for marketing, human resources, finance, production, office and technology, and executive departments. SERVPRO Corporate Trainers dedicate a majority of their time in the year to preparing for this convention to deliver the most relevant and helpful presentations.

One of the major points of the convention was integrating more advanced technology into our routine. For example, the use of iPads is a wonderful tool that many franchises take advantage of. Corporate suggested using this technology to take initial measurements, readings from equipment, and notes while onsite instead of the traditional pad and paper. SERVPRO of Black Hawk County has already taken the steps to fully integrate this method by the end of the summer. How exciting!

In addition to education and networking, this convention serves as a time to recognize hard work and dedication. This year SERVPRO awarded the Oregon/Northern CA/Western NV and the Woodlands/Conroe of Texas as the Franchisees of the Year.

We’re excited to celebrate SERVPRO’s 50th Annual Convention next year!

Things to do Before You Leave for Vacation

7/10/2018 (Permalink)

Rest easy soaking up the sun on a beach and know your house is a little safer while you're away.

Let’s be honest, a lot of terrible things can happen to your home, and you have 100% no control over it. A pipe bursts. A heavy rain comes. Whatever it may be, you are not in control.

There is also a small list of things you DO have control over, and you should take advantage of it before leaving for vacation this year. Follow these steps and rest easy while soaking up the sun on a beach.

1. Turn off the main water supply.

Now, why would you want to do that? Well, if we’re thinking of the worst-case scenario, you’ll probably have a leaking supply line the minute you step out the door for your week-long vacation. Greaaaat. Just what you wanted. But wait. If you shut off the water supply, the amount of water leaking is significantly lower. Best of all, it only takes a few minutes to do.

2. Check the sump pump.

Another scary thought is sump pump failure. That’s why you should check it before departing. Try dumping a bucket of water in and wait. Your sump pump should turn on and everything should be hunky dory. But if it doesn’t turn on, that’s a red flag.

3. Unplug Electronics.

Just do yourself a favor and unplug everything that isn’t plugged into a surge protector—as long as it’s switched off. Even then, unplug the surge protector if you want to be extra careful with unexpected power surges. You’ll also save money by doing this, so that’s neat.

4. Don’t turn your air off completely.

As tempting as it may be to save some money by turning off your air while away, try to resist. The reason you want to keep your air on is that your home needs air circulation; otherwise, heat can build up and effect wood floors and other surfaces alike. Setting your thermostat to 85 degrees will keep your electronics cool and will save you money too. You’re basically preventing your house from becoming a giant oven.

5. Check your gutters.

Downspouts should release water at least 10 ft. away from your house. If this is not the case for you, maybe an extension is in order.

6. Have a trusted friend check on your house, even if you don’t have any pets.

Nothing beats having a human being keep an eye on your home while away. Feel free to give specific instructions like, “Go check our basement to make sure there is no water in the furnace room.” They’ll care as much as you care, so be clear as to what you’re concerned about.

Keeping your home safe is our top priority, so please, take precautions before leaving for vacay and have a wonderful time.




DIY Emergency Kit

7/10/2018 (Permalink)

In an emergency, what goes through your head in the 30 seconds you have to run to the basement? Maybe something like, “Where are the kids?!”, “Honey, grab the flashlights!”, and maybe, “Where’s my phone?”

In such a short time slot, it’s hard to think clearly, let alone think of everything you might need when heading for the basement. That’s why SERVPRO of Black Hawk wants you to have a Do It Yourself (DIY) Emergency Kit ready to go in times like this.

Emergency kits vary, but most are pretty similar. We recommend having the following on hand in your basement in an easy-access location:

  • Food: enough non-perishable items for your entire family for 3 days
  • Can opener—so you can actually eat the food
  • Water: 1 gallon per person for at least 3 days
  • First aid kit
  • Flashlights with fresh batteries
  • Blankets
  • Battery powered or hand crank radio
  • Phone chargers
  • Tennis shoes and socks
  • Extra pair of clothes for each family member
  • Candle and matches

Emergency kits are great for your home, car, and even workplace. They can be as big or small as you want.

We recommend re-evaluating and updating your kit every year. Depending on who’s living in your home with you, and the needs may change. Also, the food may expire, so swapping it out with fresh food is a great idea.

If you experience any storm damage, don’t hesitate to call SERVPRO of Black Hawk County. We’re here to help.

Source: https://www.ready.gov/build-a-kit.

MB Mold and Air Quality Testing

7/10/2018 (Permalink)

SERVPRO of Black Hawk County really appreciates MB Mold and Air Quality Testing and would recommend them to anyone.

SERVPRO of Black Hawk County really appreciates MB Mold and Air Quality Testing and would recommend them to anyone.


MB Mold and Air Quality Testing is a company out of Dubuque who helps our customers with various indoor air quality issues (IAQ). They serve the Eastern Iowa area—including Dubuque, Waterloo, and Cedar Falls—as well as Southwest Wisconsin and Northwest Illinois area.

How does air quality testing work?

When we have a customer, who has a potential mold problem, we call our friend Bob Vohl, CIE, of MB Mold and Air Quality Testing. Ideally, an Indoor Environmental Professional (IEP) from MB Mold, will take initial samples when there is a suspected mold issue.

In our case, Bob makes regular trips from Dubuque, IA to take air samples in the home or building that is suspected of mold and also samples the outside environment. Typically, an air sample contains enough air so the results capture an accurate picture of about 600 square feet of the indoor environment. He then sends the samples to a lab and receives the results within 48 hours.

The samples taken outside are just as important as the ones inside the home—if not more. They use the outdoor results as a comparison because mold spores are everywhere—both outside AND inside. Having mold spores in your home or building is completely normal, but if there are more mold spores inside than outside, it indicates there is a source of mold inside the building and there’s a problem.

Wrap it up.

Here’s where SERVPRO of Black Hawk County comes in. We rely on their expertise so we can apply our expertise of remediating the mold problem and returning your building to a state of normal fungal ecology (NFE). The whole remediation process is explained on our website. After the remediation, MB Mold and Air Quality Testing will perform Post Remediation Verification (PRV) testing to ensure that the home or building has returned to NFE. If the results come back with more mold spores outside than inside, then it’s case closed, and we can finish the wrap-up.

How does mold testing work?

Over the counter mold testing kits gives very little information. These test kits require a swab of the suspected material being inserted into a liquid and waiting for a color change. They simply tell you that mold is present, which is normally the case in every building. If you’re concerned a specific piece of furniture has mold on it, this method may be acceptable. However, if you want to know the type of mold, if it is actively growing and most importantly how much of the building has been contaminated with airborne mold spores, we recommend getting an IEP.

From the man himself:

We reached out to Bob and he shared,

“The IEPs from MB Mold and Air Quality Testing have undergone rigorous training and are certified by the ACAC as Council Certified Indoor Environmentalists (CIEs).  They are extensively trained in several areas of IAQ in addition to mold, such as; allergen testing, methamphetamine residue, Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), avian-bat-rodent droppings and several other IAQ issues.  MB Mold and Air Quality Testing works with residential and commercial customers and their buildings.”

SERVPRO of Black Hawk County really appreciates MB Mold and Air Quality Testing and would recommend them to anyone.

5 Facts About Smoke Damage

7/9/2018 (Permalink)

Smoke damage to a wall.

Smoke damage is often overlooked, but it’s more prevalent than one would think. Discover five facts about smoke damage, so you can be prepared for a fire loss.

This Stinks—Literally

The smell of smoke can remain long after the fire occurred. For this reason alone, we highly recommend people receive professional help from SERVPRO of Black Hawk County in any fire loss. We use deodorizers, air scrubbers, and fogging equipment to eliminate the smell of smoke. 

If the smoky smell remains, it can actually impact the selling price of your home or business when you go to sell it.

Discoloration is Everywhere

Another burden of smoke damage is the discoloration. Walls, ceilings, household items, and more can be discolored after a fire. In the photo, you can see the walls have turned black due to excessive smoke—and no, it’s not a black and white photo.

Unsafe to your Health

As you have probably guessed, smoke damage is also bad for your health. Coughing is only the start, with respiratory problems to follow.

Speed is Key

Corrosion is the next thing to occur after a fire, and time is not your friend. With every day ash sits, more corrosion will occur.

Different Smoke Types Require Different Cleaning Methods

Perhaps the trickiest thing about smoke is there are different types, and each type requires a different cleaning method. 

If you experience any smoke damage, call SERVPRO of Black Hawk County right away. We’ll make it “Like it never even happened.”

Does your insurance policy cover Mold?

6/1/2018 (Permalink)

Do you know what's hiding behind your walls? If you've had water damage, there could be something more.

Does your insurance policy cover mold?

Mold removal can be extremely costly, so you don’t want to find out too late that you’re not covered!

What’s included in mold coverage?

Coverage varies from policy to policy and state to state, so the only way to know for sure if your policy will cover mold removal is to read your policy carefully. Or, if the long document intimidates you, you can just ask your agent. It’s good to let the experts explain the nitty gritty details, that way you don’t miss a beat when an event does occur.

When Mold Coverage Exists:

In cases where mold coverage exists, coverage needs to be triggered by another covered cause of loss such as:

  • Burst pipe
  • Flood
  • Residual water from putting out a fire

Water Damage from a Leaky Roof

Homeowners insurance usually won’t pay for water damage that results from a leaky roof, and most policies won’t cover mold damage that results from a leaky roof, either. This is because it is within your responsibility to provide maintenance to your home. However, if damage to the roof is caused by a fallen tree or limb, that damage usually will be covered by homeowners’ insurance. In that case, your insurance policy might also cover any resulting mold damage.

Note: Ignoring the problem won’t make it go away

Most policies have a requirement that you take reasonable steps to mitigate damage. Once you are aware of a water loss you have a duty to address the condition to protect from further damage. If you are aware of otherwise covered water damage and fail to take any action, there could be coverage issue for the water damage as well as any resulting mold damage.

We hope you don’t need our services, but if you find mold in your home, call SERVPRO of Black Hawk County at (319) 268-1521. We’ll arrange mold testing with MB Mold and Air Quality Testing in Dubuque, a trusted firm we utilize.

When Storms or Floods hit anywhere from Black Hawk County to New Hampton, or even Grundy Center, SERVPRO is ready!

5/25/2018 (Permalink)

Life comes crashing in-THROUGH the CEILING! Our highly trained crews are ready to respond 24/7 to storm or flood damage in Black Hawk County.

SERVPRO of Black Hawk County specializes in storm and flood damage cleanup.  Our crews are highly trained and we use specialized equipment to restore your property to its pre-storm condition.

Faster Response

Since we are locally owned and operated by Scott and Libby Demuth, we are able to respond quicker with the right resources, which is extremely important. A fast response lessens the damage, limits further damage, and reduces the restoration cost.

Resources to Handle Floods and Storms

When storms hit Black Hawk County or anywhere between New Hampton and Grundy Center, we can scale our resources to handle a large storm or flooding disaster. We can access equipment and personnel from a network of 1,700 Franchises across the country and elite Disaster Recovery Teams that are strategically located throughout the United States. That’s SERVPRO Strong!

Have Storm or Flood Damage? Call Us Today, SERVPRO of Black Hawk County, 319.268.1521

Using technology so you are READY not RUINED when disaster happens!

5/25/2018 (Permalink)

Preparing for the WORST, using technology, is the BEST way to be READY!

According to ready.gov, when a business suffers from a disaster the likelihood of reopening is only 60%.

When disaster comes, you can be ruined or you can be ready with the help of technology. The difference between those who make a comeback and those who don’t is preparedness. Here are some of the best ways to prepare for the worst.

  • Backup online: Various services such as Google and Dropbox offer secure, online document storage. Backup your important computer files and/or images of important documents online where they can be recovered immediately.
  • Stay informed: Follow local news, local government, FEMA and SERVPRO of Black Hawk County on social media such as Facebook and Twitter.
  • Mark yourself safe: Keep your family and friends up-to-date. Use Facebook’s Safety Check, or The American Red Cross’ Safe & Well site to mark yourself safe after you’ve been caught up in a natural disaster, or crisis situation.
  • Update Contact Info: Maintain current contact information in your e-mail and phone for family and friends you may need to contact in the event of an emergency.
  • Stay charged: Keep a portable charger charged up and ready to go in your home and vehicle. Solar powered chargers are available as an alternative to portable chargers. Solar chargers don’t require recharge and may be more reliable in the event of a natural disaster or crisis situation.
  • Get an Emergency READY Plan (ERP) put together by SERVPRO of Black Hawk County.Give us a call to make an appointment to have an ERP- Ready Plan put together for YOU!
  • Your local SERVPRO of Black Hawk County marketing department is specially trained to assist you in preparing an Emergency Ready Plan for your business.  Our READY Plan software is available at no cost and once completed you can manage in online yourself through the READY Plan mobile app.

It’s all about us, all for you! Training brings positive results at SERVPRO of Black Hawk County.

3/6/2018 (Permalink)

Regional meeting brings hands on training and education for employees of SERVPRO'S across Iowa.

We invest in our SERVPRO of Black Hawk County employees by sending them to education classes put on at SERVPRO regional meetings.

Marketing departments from the SERVPRO’S across Iowa gather to discuss social media trends, and unique ways to educate homeowners and business proprietors on recovering from damages of water, fire and biohazard.

Project managers from Iowa experience hands on demonstrations by equipment venders as they discover new ways to use drying tools in homes and businesses.

Franchise owners study up on business advancements and network, sharing insights on clean-up efforts in water and fire losses.

It’s all about us, all for you! More instruction and training brings positive results during catastrophic times like flooding or a disaster with basement sewer back-up or restoring people’s lives after a fire.

Ask for SERVPRO of Black Hawk County when you have a fire or water problem.

SERVPRO of Black Hawk County 2018 Continuing Education Classes with YOU in mind!

2/22/2018 (Permalink)

Todd Davis presenting continuing education class at Hawkeye Community College for SERVPRO of Black Hawk County in 2017.

Continuing education classes (CE) are an important part of practicing insurance for both personal lines and commercial agents.

Each state has different licensure requirements for insurance agents. In general, to obtain a license to sell insurance, one must pay a fee, complete a pre-licensing training course and pass a licensing examination.

Agent licenses must be renewed and maintained by completing continuing education.

The magic number 36 is how many credit courses Iowa resident licensees must complete of CE’s every three years. Only 18 hours of the total requirement can be earned through self-study unless a course is part of a national designation.   Three hours of ethics training must be included as part of the overall CE requirement.

SERVPRO of Black Hawk County organizes and makes possible classroom CE credit courses. The courses are presented by a licensed speaker that has been approved and has their classes registered in the State of Iowa.

2018 CE classes being offered by SERVPRO of Black Hawk County:

May 9:

  • Ethics Boot Camp (3 CE’s) 9:00 to 12:00
  • Navigating Insurance Claims (4 CE’s) 1:00 to 5:00

October 23:

  • Insurance Hot Topics & Trends (4 CE’s) 8:30 to 12:30
  •  For a few dollars more, Endorsements (4 CE’s) 1:00 to 5:00
  • Fee for 1 class per day is $20.00, both classes taken on the same day is $35.00.

Space is limited, registration is on a first come, first served basis.

Back by popular demand, Instructor Todd Davis, Davis Agency Insurance of Peoria, Illinois, will teach these all new courses. Conveniently located with plenty of parking, the classes take place at Hawkeye Community College in Waterloo, Iowa. 

Email Debbie Robeson at debbie@SERVPRObhc.com for registration material.

Water Extraction versus Evaporation

2/21/2018 (Permalink)

Weighted extraction "Ride On"

There are two ways that excess water can be removed from your property after a water damage loss, Extraction and Evaporation.  A much larger volume of water can be removed by extraction in a much shorter period of time. 

It is a pretty simply process to test, pour a few ounces of water on the counter top in two different areas.  Set up a fan blowing across one area to utilize air movement to speed up evaporation.  Use a sponge or dry cloth on the other area.  Needless to say, this will prove the point.  The same is true during a water damage loss to your home or business.

At SERVPRO of Black Hawk County we utilize both methods to get your property dried up as quickly as possible.

For extraction, we use several pieces of equipment including hard floor wands and carpet extraction machines, including this "ride on" weighted model pictured.  Strong suction and downward pressure allows us to get water out of carpet and pad. This process is the most effective on free or surface water.

Once the water has been soaked into other materials such as, hardwood floors, drywall or wood, extraction becomes less effective and we concentrate on evaporation.

Evaporation uses a combination of air movement, dehumidification and sometimes heat to remove water that is bound or soaked into hard to dry materials.

Whether you have excessive surface water immediately after a storm or other water event or you have water that has become bound in building materials, SERVPRO of Black Hawk County has the tools and knowledge to make it "Like it never even happened."  

Content and picture provided by SERVPRO of Dubuque, 2017.

Phone Charger Shorted Causing Fire Damage

2/21/2018 (Permalink)

This is a phone charger that was plugged in and shorted out causing fire damage.

In a continuing education class presented by Todd Davis, Davis Agency Insurance, for SERVPRO of Black Hawk County, Todd pointed out that one fast growing fire hazard was phone chargers left plugged in for extended time periods. Look around, do you have one plugged in now and possibly without a phone attached?

To prove the point, I am sharing a story from SERVPRO of Dubuque, Iowa. They were recently called to clean up and rebuild a local home that sustained significant fire, soot and smoke damage due to an electrical fire.

As usual they were prevented from beginning their work until after the Cause and Origin Specialist had reviewed the scene and determined the cause of the fire.

It ended up in this case that a cell phone charger was left plugged in after the phone was removed after charging overnight.  The charger shorted out and started a fire resulting in $50,000 plus in damage.

It is commonly known that charging a phone while on top of a flammable surface such as in bed or on a sofa is a fire hazard, but what about once the phone is removed from the charger?

Most people are unaware that once the phone or even the charging cord are disconnected there is still power being drawn by the "wall plug".

As we find that we use more and more mobile electronics in our daily lives, most of us have a handful of different chargers for our cell phones, tablets and other accessories.  It is common to leave wall plugs or car chargers plugged in and simply disconnect our devices.  Unfortunately doing so is not only a fire hazard but is becoming one of the most frequent causes of electrical fires in homes.

Two possible preventative measures are either simply unplugging all chargers when not currently in use or to plug all chargers into a quality GFI power strip and turn it off when not utilizing the chargers.

I hope this information will be helpful and can prevent a dangerous and costly fire in your home or business.  Should you have a fire or water damage loss, please remember SERVPRO.  We can make it "Like it never even happened."

Thank you to SERVPRO of Dubuque for sharing the picture and story.

Freeze Drying can save your valuable documents and important papers when they have been damaged by water!

2/21/2018 (Permalink)

SERVPRO'S Large Scale Vacuum Freeze Drying Document Chamber.

SERVPRO Strong! That’s what I call our relationship with the rest of the SERVPRO franchises! We are unique in the fact that we all work together, sharing resources to better serve you!

One resource is large scale and portable document drying chambers. SERVPRO of Dubuque, Iowa offers a document restoration service.  It’s true other restoration companies have this service, so what is the difference?

For starters, they have one of the only HIPAA certified document response crews in the area.  If an event causes documents to get wet, response time is critical to stabilize the documents before they begin to degrade.  Once the documents are frozen to stabilize them, we have plenty of time to discuss restoration options with the client.

The most effective method of restoration is vacuum freeze drying.  The documents are brought under extreme vacuum to very low temperatures and sublimation will remove the moisture directly into a gas form.

SERVPRO of Dubuque has a large freeze drying chamber located in the Midwest, as well as access to one of the only mobile drying chambers in the country.  The mobile unit can be delivered to a client’s building and the restoration can take place there.  They are one of the only restoration companies that can accommodate this request.

Here is a list of items that can be salvaged using vacuum freeze drying:

  • Books and manuscripts: coated papers, maps, parchment, pulp paper, drafting linens, text books, reference books, manuals
  • Business/Personal records and documents: legal/bank/company files, patient and medical records, x-rays, engineering and architectural plans and drawings, catalogues, reference materials, certificates, contracts, passports, transcripts, tax records
  • Historical and collectible items: archival documents, rare documents, maps, stamp collections, money collections
  • Keepsakes: photographs, leather and hide items, newspaper articles, recipe books, cards, scrapbooks, baby books, wedding albums, yearbooks, baskets, awards & achievements
  • Textiles: embroidery and needlework, silks, tapestries, flags
  • Artwork: acrylic paintings, linen drawings, water colors.

SERVPRO of Black Hawk County utilizes these services. From a single file cabinet filled with personal financial documents to a warehouse full of documents, it can all be handled. 

When you have SERVPRO of Black Hawk County cleaning and restoring your home or business, you will have a multitude of resources available to you! That’s the SERVPRO strong way!

Content provided by SERVPRO of Dubuque, 2017.

One incredible washing machine cleaning and restoring your items, the Esporta!

2/21/2018 (Permalink)

An inside look of the Esporta washing machine. Four multi chamber sections make up this appliance.

The Esporta Wash System, restores up to 85% of the soft contents that have been traditionally non-restorable!

Here's why it's important for you to know WHERE & HOW your content is being cleaned & restored.

  • Your content will be cleaned by the latest technology - not harsh dry cleaning methods or out of date equipment & methods. The computer determines what is needed based on content.
  • The Esporta will hold up to at least 6 standard loads of laundry, with room to spare.
  • Your content will be inventoried and cataloged for more expedited claim process.
  • Your content is stored in a safe, controlled environment.
  • You will have emergency laundry cleaned and returned quickly.

Examples of what the Esporta can do is decontamination of soft content, remove smoke, odor and stains, and clean sewage damaged clothing. It can hold a variety of sized items in its multi chambered sections.

SERVPRO of Black Hawk County utilizes the Esporta Wash System which is located at the SERVPRO of Burlington, Iowa site.

Providing more restoration resources for you so we can make it “Like it never even happened.”®

Restoring Your Black Hawk County Commercial Property After A Water Damage Event

1/5/2018 (Permalink)

Extracting water from a broken water pipe after it floods a business's basement before an event.

Flooding and water damage events at commercial properties are often complex with numerous issues that require a knowledgeable and flexible response. Whether we’re dealing with a relatively small water cleanup scenario or a large scale event, we work quickly to assess each unique situation and isolate the damaged area. In many instances, normal operations can continue in a temporary space while we restore your facility.

Restoring Commercial Properties Presents Unique Challenges

Our professionals are trained to be mindful of legal and environmental concerns and strive to fully restore the damaged area while working within your budgetary constraints. We understand that every hour spent cleaning up is an hour of lost revenue and productivity. So when an emergency situation arises in your business, give us a call and we’ll be there fast with the help you need.

About SERVPRO of Black Hawk County

SERVPRO of Black Hawk County specializes in the cleanup and restoration of commercial and residential property after a water damage event. Our staff is highly trained in property damage restoration. From initial and ongoing training at SERVPRO’s corporate training facility to regular IICRC-industry certification, rest assured our staff is equipped with the knowledge to restore your property.


Black Hawk County Residents: Follow These Mold Safety Tips If You Suspect Mold

6/13/2017 (Permalink)

Without proper training, you could be spreading mold throughout your home. SERVPRO using protective suit, mask and equipment to remove mold.

If you see visible mold, do not disturb it. You can inadvertently spread the mold infestation throughout your home. When mold is disturbed, the mold can release microscopic mold spores which become airborne and can circulate inside your home.

What to Do:

  • Stay out of affected areas.
  • Turn off the HVAC system and fans.
  • Contact SERVPRO of Black Hawk County for mold remediation services.

What Not to Do:

  • Don’t touch or disturb the mold.
  • Don’t blow air across any surfaces with visible or suspected mold growth.
  • Don’t attempt to dry the area yourself.
  • Don’t spray bleach or other disinfectants on the mold.

About Our Mold Remediation Services

SERVPRO of Black Hawk County specializes in mold cleanup and restoration. Our crews are highly trained restoration professionals that use specialized equipment and techniques to properly remediate your mold problem quickly and safely.

If You See Signs of Mold, Call Us Today – SERVPRO of Black Hawk County 319-268-1521.

Smoke and Soot Damage Can Cause a Pervasive Odor in Your Home!

5/25/2017 (Permalink)

An upstairs fire that burned and smoldered within the roof destroyed this home. Materials like wet insulation add another layer of cleanup and odor.

Smoke and soot is very invasive and can penetrate various cavities within your home, causing hidden damage and odor. Our smoke damage expertise and experience allows us to inspect and accurately assess the extent of the damage to develop a comprehensive plan of action.  

Smoke and soot facts:

  • Hot smoke migrates to cooler areas and upper levels of a structure.
  • Smoke flows around plumbing systems, seeping through the holes used by pipes to go from floor to floor.
  • The type of smoke may greatly affect the restoration process.

Different Types of Smoke

There are two different types of smoke–wet and dry. As a result, there are different types of soot residue after a fire. Before restoration begins, SERVPRO of Black Hawk County will test the soot to determine which type of smoke damage occurred. The cleaning procedures will then be based on the information identified during pretesting. Here is some additional information:

Wet Smoke – Plastic and Rubber

  • Low heat, smoldering, pungent odor, sticky, smeary. Smoke webs are more difficult to clean.

Dry Smoke – Paper and Wood

  • Fast burning, high temperatures, heat rises therefore smoke rises.

Protein Fire Residue – Produced by evaporation of material rather than from a fire

  • Virtually invisible, discolors paints and varnishes, extreme pungent odor. 

Our Fire Damage Restoration Services

Since each smoke and fire damage situation is a little different, each one requires a unique solution tailored for the specific conditions.  We have the equipment, expertise, and experience to restore your fire and smoke damage.  We will also treat your family with empathy and respect and your property with care.

Have Questions about Fire, Smoke, or Soot Damage?
Call Us Today – 

Its The Water You Don't See That Causes The Most Damage! SERVPRO of Black Hawk County is available 24/7 for your water damage issues.

5/2/2017 (Permalink)

Standing water in the kitchen and flowing into the living area after a broken pipe flooded this home.

Flooding and water emergencies don’t wait for regular business hours and neither do we. SERVPRO of Black Hawk County provides emergency cleaning and restoration services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week—including all holidays.

Faster To Any Size Disaster

Flooding and water damage is very invasive. Water quickly spreads throughout your home and gets absorbed into floors, walls, furniture, and more.  SERVPRO of Black Hawk County arrives quickly and starts the water extraction process almost immediately. This immediate response helps to minimize the damage and the cleaning and restoration costs.

Need Emergency Service? Call Us 24/7 – SERVPRO OF Black Hawk County

Water Damage Timeline

Within Minutes

  • Water quickly spreads throughout your property, saturating everything in its path.
  • Water is absorbed into walls, floors, upholstery, and belongings.
  • Furniture finishes may bleed, causing permanent staining on carpets.
  • Photographs, books, and other paper goods start to swell and warp.

Hours 1 - 24:

  • Drywall begins to swell and break down.
  • Metal surfaces begin to tarnish.
  • Furniture begins to swell and crack.
  • Dyes and inks from cloth and paper goods spread and stain.
  • A musty odor appears.

48 Hours to 1 Week:

  • Mold and mildew may grow and spread.
  • Doors, windows, and studs swell and warp.
  • Metal begins to rust and corrode.
  • Furniture warps and shows signs of mold.
  • Paint begins to blister.
  • Wood flooring swells and warps.
  • Serious biohazard contamination is possible.

More Than 1 Week:

  • Restoration time and cost increase dramatically; replacing contaminated materials and structural rebuilding may be extensive.
  • Structural safety, mold growth, and biohazard contaminants pose serious risks to occupants.

About SERVPRO of Black Hawk County

SERVPRO of Black Hawk County specializes in the cleanup and restoration of residential and commercial property after a fire, smoke or water damage event. Our staff is highly trained in property damage restoration. From initial and ongoing training at SERVPRO’s corporate training facility to regular IICRC-industry certification, rest assured our staff is equipped with the knowledge to restore your property.

Our Highly Trained Restoration Specialists can restore your home!

3/15/2017 (Permalink)

SERVPRO of Black Hawk County is Trained and Certified in Water, Fire and Smoke Damage Restoration, Mold Remediation, and Carpet Cleaning.

SERVPRO of Black Hawk County is an IICRC firm. The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) creates the standards for the restoration industry and provides training and certification to restoration companies. IICRC Certified Firms have the right to display the IICRC Certified Logo.

IICRC Certified Firms must

  • Present accurate information to consumers and conduct business with honesty and integrity.

  • Require a technician on all jobs who has been formally trained and passed all required tests.

  • Require a continuing education program to keep technicians up-to-date on the latest changes in the industry.

  • Maintain liability insurance to protect all parties in the event of an accident.

  • Maintain a written complaint policy and agree to Better Business Bureau or similar arbitration to resolve disputes, and accept the conclusions and recommendations of arbitration.

The IICRC Develops The Standards For The Restoration Industry

The IICRC has been the driving force in establishing the main industry standards and reference guides for professional carpet cleaning, water damage restoration and mold remediation. These IICRC standards take years to develop and require the coordination of experts in the field: manufacturers, industry organizations, insurance professionals, training schools, contractors, and public health professionals.

Every five years, the standards are reviewed and updated. The water damage restoration field changes rapidly with advancements in technology and science, and therefore the standards must evolve to keep pace.

About SERVPRO of Black Hawk County

SERVPRO of Black Hawk County specializes in the cleanup and restoration of residential and commercial property after a fire, smoke or water damage event. Our staff is highly trained in property damage restoration and we are an IICRC Certified Firm. We believe in continuous training: from initial and ongoing training at SERVPRO’s corporate training facility to regular IICRC-industry certification, rest assured our staff is equipped with the knowledge to restore your property.


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